Tech and marketing pundits may provide a list of reasons for iPad’s success: creating a new market, it’s pricing, form factor, iOS, availability of Apps and so on. Another factor is its ease of use – especially with kids. You can see videos of 2.5 year olds playing comfortably with an iPad – sure, they were already familiar with the iOS, thanks to the iPhone.
Apart from the ease of use, the iPad’s features: the large screen, touch interface, the innovative apps all make for a great entertainment device. And when it comes to kids, entertainment can be learning too. I am all for kids playing with real friends and in the playground. But the reality of gadgets being part of their lives can’t be overlooked. I am OK if she uses actual crayons on a colouring book and does virtual colouring on the iPad.
Even with a ‘regular’ learning routine like alphabets there are so many ways of making it fun for kids. There’s ABC Tracer on which alphabets have to be popped like a balloon in the right sequence.
The Blackboard app functions like a regular blackboard on which you can use a ‘slate’. My favourite pastime with my 5-year old is to draw a shape on it, which she then ‘converts’ to something else by adding on other shapes. A block of squares, becomes a dog and a circle becomes a clown’s face.
The apps I like most are the ones which teach spellings and phonetics. There are several that do the job well – like IwriteWords, Pocketphonic and Word Magic. My daughter’s latest favorite is Montessori Crosswords.
And then there are those which bring a story alive. There’s nothing like telling a story yourself to kids, especially the made up ones. But these apps combine audio visual richness to the art of story telling.
I sometimes get chided for giving gadgets like the iPad to my kid. I think a healthy balance of outdoor & indoor activity is a must for a kids’ learning. The iPad can be an enriching companion for indoor play – not a replacement.